September 1 of every year marks the beginning of the “Longest Christmas Celebration in the World,” only in the Philippines. This is the earliest month when private homes, but mostly commercial establishments, begin to roll out the Holiday decorations. On the more annoying side, September would see the emergence of some overeager kids who start singing Carols in exchange for handouts. Better to listen to professionally-made Yuletide music blasting from the sound systems of restaurants or malls. Speaking of music, one or two names are certainly bandied by Filipinos in this time of year: Mariah Carey and Jose Mari Chan.
Interaksyon at the Philippine Star has it that upon this Wednesday September 1, and indeed even a few days prior back in August, social media has been shining the spotlight on the meme of certain recording artists performing songs that have become standard while waiting for the Holidays to come. Locally that means Jose Mari Chan and his 1990 album “Christmas in Our Hearts,” especially the title song. Internationally it could imply Mariah Carey and her 1994 yuletide song “All I Want for Christmas is You.” But since the Philippines starts celebrating Christmas early, it means she usually begins singing in the airwaves with Chan.
With the onset of the “Ber” months, “Christmas in Our Hearts” and “All I Want for Christmas is You” are added into the looping soundtracks of many shopping malls in the country, and the playlists of radio stations. Filipino social media is quick to not just pick up on the surge of airtime for the two songs but also hang a lampshade at how the two Marys (Jose Mari and Mariah) have become the season’s heralds in this contemporary era.
Pinoys have long taken for granted the prevalence of Jose Mari Chan songs during the Ber months, but a pizza commercial featuring him a few years ago really hammered the reality into the public consciousness. Meanwhile, Mariah Carey’s 1994 Christmas song, which was re-recorded in 2011 with Justin Bieber for his album “Under the Mistletoe,” has been described as the modern Christmas anthem according to Time magazine in 2019. Between “Christmas in Our Hearts” and “All I Want for Christmas is You,” Filipinos find busying themselves in the malls, other businesses and even at home with a radio to be great fun, pandemic from last year and this one notwithstanding.
Image courtesy of Bandera – Inqurer.net